Jeffrey Sánchez didn’t have to go far for his next landing spot.
The former eight-term state representative and House budget chief will start Monday as a senior fellow at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, nestled at the edge of the district he once represented.
Sánchez will teach a weekly not-for-credit workshop and appear next month as part of the school’s web-streamed interview series, according to the school. The fellowship is slated to run seven weeks through March 15.
“I’m going to make it like a leadership boot camp,” Sánchez said of the course, which is billed as a workshop on “how to turn ideas into action.” About 30 students have signed on, according to school officials.
“There’s a lot of noise out there,” Sánchez said. “I’m going to take a practical approach to what they’re working on.”
The School of Public Health program is relatively young — it was created in 2012 — and unlike the fellowship program at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Institute of Politics, it typically includes one fellow at a time. It also appears to fit nicely into Sánchez’s background: He has served as House chair of both the Committee on Public Health and the Committee on Health Care Financing before ascending in July 2017 to head the House Ways & Means Committee, one of Beacon Hill’s most powerful posts.
He didn’t hold it long. The Jamaica Plain Democrat, facing a progressive challenger in one of the state’s most liberal districts, was stunned in a September primary by first-time candidate Nika Elugardo. It marked a rare defeat for such a prominent State House figure and has left a still-unanswered question of who would replace him atop the influential budget-writing panel.
“I think for a lot of people it was a surprise that Representative Sánchez lost, yet we knew he was a tremendous leader,” said Eric R. Andersen, director of the Menschel Senior Leadership Fellows Program. “That work that he did, the fact that this is a school that he quite literally grew up in the shadow of, for him it’s a great opportunity to bring that experience and share it with students.”
Sánchez first entered public life working under Mayor Thomas M. Menino, serving a variety of roles from liaison to the Hispanic community to census director. He earned an undergraduate degree at UMass Boston and a master’s from Harvard’s Kennedy School, and first won election to the House in 2002.
Asked if he could see himself one day returning to elected office, Sánchez laughed.
“I’m going into the classroom to ponder,” he said. “This Harvard thing is great. My relationships within Harvard go beyond seven weeks. I could see myself doing more.
“I’ve got 20 years of health care policy and organizational experience,” he added. “I feel like I can spend time and help people figure out what they want to do while I’m doing my new life, as John Q. Citizen.”